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Home » The Vine

The Vine: February 12, 2014

Submitted by on February 12, 2014 – 9:08 AM45 Comments

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I've been dating my boyfriend now for about three months.

He's the friend of a friend's brother whom I met a little before I graduated college this past spring. He'd just got out of the military and living in a new town, so he didn't know a whole lot of people. At first, we talked a lot about acclimating to the "real world" and trying to find jobs and all that. He's a really nice guy; mild-mannered but he makes me laugh, in good shape, laid-back, smells nice.

There's just one problem. Recently I spent the night at his place. This was only our second sleepover, and, well, I hate to be one of those girls that gushes about sex with her boyfriend, but it was really good. Great, even. The next morning he got up to go get coffee and I got on his computer. I swear I wasn't trying to snoop or anything; I just wanted to check my email and whatnot until he got back. While surfing, however, his browser did an auto-fill for a popular white-nationalist forum. My curiosity got the best of me, so I went to it, and not only does he have an account, but he has thousands of posts on there. I was heartbroken. I am SO not into that; I'm not very political, but I'm pro-choice and I voted for Obama, so in his world, I'm a heathen…I think. I can't believe he believes in this white-power/Aryan-nation nonsense.

Now I don't know what to do. He's a great guy apart from this, and it doesn't seem like something he's eager to talk about. I kind of figured he was more right-wing than me, but I just chalked that up to him being former military and being "harder" than me about stuff. But this is just weird. I told my mom I don't even think I'm technically supposed to know about this side of him, so it feels strangely wrong to judge him on it. She said at the end of the day, this is who he is regardless if he told me about it or not, and now I have to decide if I can overlook it. Gee, thanks, Mom.

Anyway, I'm curious to know what you think I should do.

Sincerely,

Nicole

Dear Nicole,

…You know what I think you should do. You know there really is no "apart from this." He's a racist, and not the "soft bigotry of lowered expectations" kind, or your older relative who still says "Oriental."

I'm sorry that there probably isn't a good explanation for his presence on that forum, a justification that would let you keep having great sex with a sweet-smelling man and not disrupt your social circle by dumping him. Hey, maybe he did just embed himself, for lack of a better word, with the separatists in order to argue with them and their revolting worldviews. But: he didn't. You mention the thousands of posts he's accumulated; you don't mention that any of them take a contrarian stance.

You can't unknow this, and you can't tolerate it either. You have to tell him what you found, and you have to tell him it's a dealbreaker.

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45 Comments »

  • Lulu says:

    If you don't want to break up based on information you're not "supposed to know," get him to tell you. Introduce any of the hundreds if racially charged current events topics in today's headlines, and I'm sure you will get to hear those hateful views spew directly at you from that pretty mouth. Min wouldn't subject myself to that, but it may be the wake up call you need to truly understand that he really believes this stuff.

    Let's be clear, though: you must break up with him; he must know why (he needs to associate open bigotry with rejection); and you may not have sex with him again. I cannot stress that enough. No sex with racists.

  • Katie says:

    I think you should break up with him and tell him exactly what you wrote in this letter. He needs to know that his viewpoints are not okay by any stretch of the imagination- and knowing that normal people don't want to date a white supremacist could be good for him.

    Not everything should be tolerated. There are some opinions you're just not allowed to have, and this is one of them.

  • Lizard says:

    I can't say I've ever had great, or even good partnered sex, but in your situation, I wouldn't be able to be attracted to someone like that anymore, regardless of how I found out. I would be faking being sexual at all, which is the end of the relationship, right there.

    I agree with Lulu: he might have those opinions, but he's not going to be anything but less sexy, less likable, less lovable for having them. I just couldn't be with a guy who thinks people who are my friends and family are less human.

  • Georgia says:

    I'm disturbed that the question the letter-writer seems to be asking is not: "Do I tell him WHY I'm breaking up with him?" but "Is it legit to break up with him after stumbling across the fact he's a skinhead?"

  • Ashley says:

    Once someone is outed as an Aryan, I basically don't care how I came to that information and I don't care if it bothers them either. That is the height of scumbaggery and a deal-breaker.

  • Becky G says:

    As a woman who is pretty "right-wing" myself by most standards, if I were in your position I would end it immediately. There is no acceptable reason for a person to have these viewpoints, and whether he knows that you know or not, you are tacitly condoning these viewpoints by continuing the relationship. There are lots of good people out there of all different political and social persuasions; there is no reason this guy should get the pleasure of your company.

    And I agree that he needs to know precisely why. He won't learn a lesson from it, but maybe he'll repeat the story of how you dumped him one day and someone will punch him in his face for it.

  • Cora says:

    Sex is a much more powerful motivator than we're willing to admit, isn't it? At least, that's how I felt when my first real relationship ended. It was done, done done done, and I knew that; but GOD, I did NOT want to lose the great sex. I had been sheltered (i.e., sex without the wedding ring = bad), so it was embarrassing for me to admit that to myself. I spent a lot of mental time forcing myself to ignore physical desire as something that was supposed to be unimportant. Once I did admit it, though, I don't know, for some reason that made the breakup easier to accept. I was a normal human being who didn't want to give up crazy good endorphins; well, duh, yeah. And it doesn't help to hear others say, "Oh, you'll have great sex again, don't worry" because it doesn't feel like that right now.

    And it's so confusing, right, that someone who could make you feel THAT good could have such different ideas about the rest of the human race. How is it possible he can treat YOU that well but not understand that other people are people too? Yeah, I get it — but you know what your gut and your head are telling you.

    I'm sorry. I'd say have the talk, and maybe he really is coming around to a different viewpoint, people can change; but be wary of being told what you want to hear. You're smart, you can do this.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    And it's so confusing, right, that someone who could make you feel THAT good could have such different ideas about the rest of the human race.

    I imagine it's probably also cringey for her that she missed the signs/"would be into someone Like That." I empathize; we've all loved our share of unconscionable buttholes. She should forgive herself. But she should also split, for good, pronto.

  • Katie says:

    Wanted to add: different politics are one thing. There's room for disagreement on different political issues and people can be in relationships while disagreeing on those things.

    But disagreeing about the inherent worth of other human beings because of their race or ethnicity- no. Just no.

    Also, it scares me that he was in the military while holding these views and makes me wonder about his motivations for joining the military.

  • Bria says:

    I don't think trying to set him up to spill his views in conversation is the way to go at all. Just be straight with him and break it off. If you try to "[i]ntroduce any of the hundreds of racially charged current events topics in today's headlines" in hopes that he'll say what you expect him to say and give you a ripe moment to say "aha! You bigot! I'm out!"…there's a chance it might not work, and then what? If he hasn't managed to spill a word about this in three months, it's entirely likely that he knows it's not a popular viewpoint with many and will sidestep the chance to delve into it with you. So…then you're stuck either stringing along until something does pop out, or breaking up with him anyway and telling him that you already knew. And even an Arayan pride dickface would be well within his rights to call you on the carpet for setting him up to walk into a breakup moment rather than having the guts to just do it based on what you already know.

    Rip off a strip and cut him loose.

  • Maria says:

    This relationship is over and the only real question is how you will extricate yourself.

    Three months isn't a long time, and you were still getting to know each other. It's a pity he didn't out himself sooner, but now you know. This is how it can go in dating; at some point you get to know the person better and you see that it can't work out. Please don't beat yourself up.

    I can see how it's a mindf*ck to consider how much you like everything else about him, but IMO people who are into this world are dangerous. Maybe not themselves, but in who they associate with and where it could go. Any other person who is dangerous (ex: a criminal of some sort) you would never spend time time rationalizing about their good qualities.

    I applaud you for knowing it has to end; you have your head on pretty straight! Good luck, and please update us when you can.

  • Agnes says:

    Your mom gave you some really good advice. This is him, this is how he thinks of the world. I wouldn't have used the word "overlook," though. You can't ignore it. You can accept it as the (way too high) price of admission or you can break up with him, but you can't pretend it isn't true.

    I would love to believe that getting dumped would be the clue-by-four that will encourage him to join the 21st century and work towards a better society, but it probably won't be. But I can guarantee your approval- and no matter how much you dislike this aspect, "overlooking" it functions in his life as approval- will not be it either.

    I'm really sorry that he's not the great boyfriend you were hoping he'd be. It's a loss, but staying with him would still be that same loss.

  • Heatherkay says:

    Maybe he's an undercover FBI agent? Maybe?

    Seriously, though, DTMFA

  • Maria says:

    Surely there's a fine Aryan woman out there for him. I'm surprised he hasn't figured out he should be trying to meet somebody that way, so he doesn't have to hide anything.

    FWIW I would just tell him, listen, I went on your computer to check email last I was there, and your Aryan Nation stuff came up. I can't deal with that, so I need to say goodbye. But I would probably only say it in public or over the phone, not alone someplace. He might not be so laid-back about this.

  • Georgia says:

    @Heatherkay: I had the same thought about him being an FBI agent. If he is, though, he's not doing a very good job at the "undercover" part.

  • ferretrick says:

    DTMFA, and personally, I would not even bother to give him an explanation. Just stop taking his calls. Someone who holds those kind of views doesn't deserve courtesy. I seriously doubt he's going to have some great epiphany and become a decent human being.

  • courtney says:

    @ferretrick I agree with you that an epiphany is unlikely, & yet, I think giving the reason is crucial so that maybe–juuuust maybe–it sends the message that right-thinking people find those views repellent. just disappearing lets him off the hook to easy if you ask me.

  • Kari says:

    Thank you Katie for saying that – I tried to say something but one wrong swipe of my tablet and I erased it.

    Nicole – Please don't think of it in terms of politics. How would you feel if you found out your boyfriend secretly hated your race, talked about how they shouldn't reproduce and every other trapping of white supremecy? These beliefs have real, never-ending personal, emotional, professional, even life-ending consequences to so many people in our world. (I am a person of European descent so I can't talk about personal experiences.)

    I am sure that you care about him, I am sure that he has many redeeming qualities, but like a person who has addiction issues, this one overrides all of those. My heart is with you, this is not easy.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    Get out now. Watch Betrayed with Debra Winger & Tom Berenger for extra motivation. Seriously.

  • Jennifer says:

    Well, if you don't break up with him for being racist, eventually he will find out you're not racist and break up with you for THAT. Better just get it over with.

  • Clover says:

    I am not sure in your situation I'd reveal why I was breaking up. I'd just do so, thoroughly and expeditiously.

    I would be a little bit afraid of someone who holds these views and has a military background. I wouldn't want to do anything to make myself the target of the anger of a person like that, and it seems at least somewhat likely that he'd be angry because a) you snooped and b) you didn't like what you found and disagree strongly with his views.

    I grew up in Idaho, a known haven for white supremacists, and have met a few people who hold these views. They often also tend to be gun enthusiasts who have a strong sense of mission and aren't overly hemmed in by commonly held social norms.

    tl;dr = this guy could be dangerous; tread carefully.

  • Carol Elaine says:

    ferretrick, I wouldn't consider telling this skinhead the reason why he's being ditched as a courtesy. Frankly, it would make me feel better and, hopefully, make him feel at least a little like the shithead that he is.

    FWIW I would just tell him, listen, I went on your computer to check email last I was there, and your Aryan Nation stuff came up. I can't deal with that, so I need to say goodbye. But I would probably only say it in public or over the phone, not alone someplace. He might not be so laid-back about this."

    I like this advice, Maria. I would probably pepper it with more profanity, but I'm a Navy brat with no patience for bigotry. We tend not to pull our punches.

    And yes, Nicole, DTMFA in public or over the phone. I don't care how sweet he seems now – this is not a risk you want to take in person without witnesses.

  • KD says:

    Break up with him, but do it SAFELY. Public place or over the phone. A person capable of seeing people of other races as less than might feel the same way about women.

  • Um, "clue-by-four?" Consider that STOLEN, dear Agnes.

    I find it difficult to believe that anyone with such extreme socio-political beliefs kept them so well hidden for three months. I mean, even Can o' Tomatoes Jack probably lets it slip that he's a anarchist by the THIRD date, right?

    Anyhoo. Now you know, now you can kick him to the curb. Good luck to you.

  • attica says:

    @lulu: I'm thinking "No Sex With Racists" needs to be on a t-shirt.

    Or maybe his computer wallpaper…

  • MizShrew says:

    Yes, you must dump this guy, immediately. If he is an FBI agent, his computer should be password-protected or simply unavailable to you. And even if he is undercover, he wouldn't be able to tell you just because you dumped him. But let's face it, that scenario is super unlikely. This is a guy with disgusting views and you need to run, not walk, away from this relationship.

    I can see why many people want you to tell him why you're leaving, but at three months I don't know that you owe him an explanation. If you can do that in a safe environment then great, let him know the truth. But if you're only comfortable with "This isn't working for me," then go with that. Just get yourself out of this relationship in whatever way you need to. And don't feel bad about not recognizing it earlier — as others have said, most people with these vile views know to hide them from most people. This guy must have hid them from dozens of his military colleagues, too, people he lived in close quarters with for a long time.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    YIKES. Damn, that must have been a real shocker.

    No matter how long we live in the world, it's hard to realize that people who hold reprehensible beliefs don't usually stand around, waving signs and screaming until their neck veins explode (although some do; those are the ones it's easy to avoid.)

    Hate like this is more often like a dark river running through somebody's personality–the outlying areas look completely normal, you go for a walk and boom–something you totally were not looking for, but undeniable.

    Tell him the truth. You were checking your email, you saw what you saw. If he gets huffy about privacy, just say "I know this may feel like a violation but I truly wasn't snooping. You can believe me about that or not. What's at issue is what I found, and that I can't explain or excuse or overlook it. Please don't contact me again."

    Don't threaten to out him to the world, don't respond to any threats or pleas (if he genuinely gets scary, call the police. Don't fool around, call them.) If people ask you why you broke up, and you don't want to get into it, say you found out some things you weren't comfortable with, or talking about.

    The more truth you tell, the less bullshit he'll have to hide behind. Oh, he'll generate plenty on his website, to make himself feel better and garner bolstering from his fellow assholes, but you will know (and he will know) what really happened and why.

  • Echoing everyone who suggests being careful. This guy may be dangerous or he may not, but it's likely he knows people who are. You don't owe him an explanation; if you give him one, do it in a public place. Get out, now.

    Yes, your boyfriend is a human being, and he has good qualities in spite of holding some repugnant views. Most people who hold repugnant views are not simply monsters with no redeeming qualities. Most people who do repugnant things are not simply monsters with no redeeming qualities. But your bar for who you have intimate relationships should be higher than "isn't simply a monster with no redeeming qualities."

  • karen says:

    Oh the Internet. Giving bigots a place to play together for 20 years.

  • M says:

    I'm sorry that you ended up with one of the more hideous reasons that you need to break up with someone. (Not that you need a reason, actually, but many people have one.)I hope that soon this is a just a sad story that gets told over drinks.

    Please be careful in doing the breaking up. There was a recent-ish article in Salon about the white supremacy movement and it sounds like there is significant overlap with sexist viewpoints. A man who thinks women are less than too, is potentially dangerous to you when you end the relationship.

    Surround yourself with your family and friends that can be counted on and whose flaws are not base unkindness. And know that lots of people on the internet are sympathetic and hope you meet someone great.

  • K. says:

    I am a black woman. Your boyfriend's beliefs make me less safe in the world. Your boyfriend hates me, knows and associates with people who would do me physical harm, even kill me, simply because I exist. Do you have friends, colleagues, acquaintances of color? Your boyfriend hates them, knows and associates with people who would do them physical harm, even kill them, simply because they exist. (If you DO have friends of color and you are still considering staying with him, I have to say I judge that, a lot. I have deep, meaningful years-long friendships with white people that I would not hesitate to end if they tossed off an "Oh by the way, John's a member of the Aryan Nation." You cannot be an accomplice racist and be my friend. I do not have to explain this to my friends; that's part of why they're my friends.) "Apart from this," nothing. Your boyfriend is a Bad Man.

    It is that serious to me; it has to be. I can't look at racism through any other lens. If you can live with joining your life with someone who is a threat to me and my safety because he believes me to be less than human, you are not someone I would ever want to know.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    it has to be

    To everyone.

  • seedlessgrape says:

    Apart from the break-up comments, with which I agree, I'd just like to add the consolation that you WILL find someone else who is really nice,
    in good shape, and laid-back, AND who makes you laugh, AND who smells nice.

    There are guys out there who will be awesome for you who AREN'T pro-Aryan/white-power whatever, and you will find them eventually! Breaking up with this guy doesn't mean you won't find someone else who will be right for you.

  • Lisa says:

    @K. Beautifully written response, I don't think this could be said any better.

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    Two of my mother's dearest friends and their youngest son were murdered by their two older, teenage, neo-Nazi, "Aryan" sons, because they were trying to get their kids out of that world.

    They're serving a life sentence in prison.

    That's all I can say on the subject.

  • avis says:

    @attica-I would buy that tshirt!

  • Megan says:

    I am sorry, because you like him and the qualities you saw at first were very appealing. I have felt that tug, and wished I didn't have to resist it (for a dealbreaker).

    Be gentle to yourself after the break-up.
    Take solace in being on the right side of an unambiguous moral question. When you were called to do something somewhat hard to be not-racist, you did it.
    We are proud of you for facing reality and acting right.

  • Zipper says:

    Walking (or actually running as fast as your feet can carry you) away from this one is the right decision. Associating in any voluntary way with a racist means that you condone his horrifying and dehumanizing beliefs. Thousands of posts to an Aryan website? He's a racist.

    I'm with those who don't think you owe him any explanation. It's not your duty to show him that racism results in rejection. As a TWOP recapper once said (I think it was Jacob Clifton, who I adore): Rule #1 for a happy life is not to explain privilege to a person who is actively enjoying theirs.

    If you're the kind of person who thinks any humanoid deserves a reason for a break-up, knock yourself out (safely, in public, with a quick escape route, and immediate back-up). But if you prefer to step away from this without telling him what a colossal failure of a person he is? I think that's a valid choice.

  • ErinW says:

    Wow, Nicole, I really sympathize with your situation, I do. Not because I think you have a tough choice ahead of you–it's tough, but it's not a choice, there's only one thing you can do here–but because I can imagine how betrayed you're feeling. I'm in a new relationship too; we're approaching four months, and we're happy, and we're being goofy about Valentine's Day. You can get really attached in that amount of time. If I found out something about him tomorrow that was appalling and terrible, it would be hard to forget that for the last four months he's seemed nothing but great. It would be terribly hard to look in his face and say, "I'm sorry, but this is over and there's no way around it." This is going to be really rough on you, and it doesn't make you a bad person that you're feeling conflicted.

    However, there is no way you can stay with this person. His beliefs are not decent. It may seem easy right now to bury this knowledge because he's still keeping it veiled. You haven't seen it, really. But you need to think about what it's going to be like if you stay with him–1 year, 5 year, 10 years, how open a secret it will become. What if you have children with him? I immediately thought of this post by Blair from STFU Parents on Mommyish: http://www.mommyish.com/2013/07/01/stfu-parents-parents-who-let-their-racism-hang-out-on-facebook/5/ This is your man. These are his friends. That could be your baby.

    I also agree you should be very careful about the circumstances of the breakup. Do it in public, have a friend there, say your piece, and then leave.

  • Cyd says:

    I'm seconding Zipper: get away as fast as you can. Those who want you to tell him the reason have valid points, but this is a fundamentally dangerous person. You didn't perceive his dark side before you stumbled onto the website, so you're not able to perceive what he's capable of doing to you if you confront him. For your own safety, I'd suggest bowing out in as mild a way as possible. It's not your fault for having been deceived and charmed–the most notorious sociopaths have successfully passed as normal–but you need to extricate yourself with whatever excuses he may be most likely to find palatable.

  • Kemmi says:

    He may try to convince you – you may try to convince yourself- that this is about politics, but it's not.

    It's about the fact that he thinks there are people in the world who are born lesser, born not-really-human (and therefore, not really entitled to the same level of human rights) as him.

    There are some differences in politics that I don't agree with because… well, I think they're wrong— ("everyone should have the same opportunities" can mean very different things to very different people). There are some that I disagree with because I think they show selfishness or a lack of sense or wilful ignorance, and I think the world works better if we act not like that.
    But this isn't politics— racism, white supremacy, is *how he views* the world. It's what he thinks of the people in it and the fact that a lot of them, he doesn't think of as really being people, and he thinks it's wrong that they're treated like they are.

    If you stay with him, even if you told him that you disagreed, that you find his views abhorrent, what you're actually doing is saying that his views aren't actually that big a deal— how can they be, if they're not a dealbreaker for you?

    I'm sorry that he does have all these good qualities for you— he's probably being sincere in them, because, after all, you qualify for human treatment. People can be awful, but still have good qualities— it'd be a lot easier if they didn't. Bad things don't make the good things not real, but good things don't make the bad things not. And this is something he thinks is okay, something he would want the people around him to think is okay, and it's really, really not.

  • Agnes says:

    I was thinking of dumping him and telling him why as the same things, but reading through all the later comments, I'm going to agree with every one else that your safety should be the primary consideration, and you have a lot of good reasons not to tell him why. Dumping him fulfills your obligation.

  • shfree says:

    While I do agree that you do not have to tell him why you are breaking up with him, as that could be unsafe for you, I do think you should tell your friends, especially if he has been starting to move into your circles, and provide the website as proof if necessary. I say this not because of OMG BREAKUP DRAMA, but because he's a white power racist, and white power racists don't deserve normal human friends.

    I know I personally would be appalled if there was such a racist who had stealthily wormed their way into my social circle, and I would be incredibly pissed if someone knew about this ahead of time and chose to keep this to themselves. This isn't just a "So and so has a third nipple and it squicked me out" sort of break up, this person has a deal breaker that goes way beyond some dating problem, but into a societal one. So it's not just gossip, but a legitimate need to know, if he is wanting to still hang out with your friends.

  • RP says:

    OK, when Nicole says she's not very political, she isn't saying "Boyfriend's racist position is just a political difference" she's saying "I'm barely political and I'm still far enough left for him to disapprove of it". At least that's how I read it.

    Although I still give major side eye to the fact that she wasn't sure if this was something she could dump him over I do hope that by now she's found a way to end it safely.

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